On the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Francis reflected on the love of Christ during his homily at morning Mass today. The Mass, which took place in the chapel of Domus Sanctae Marthae, was concelebrated by the Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, Archbishop Jean-Louis Bruguès, and Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, Msgr. Sergio Pagano. It was attended by employees of the Vatican Secret Archives.
Contemplating on the solemnity, the Holy Father said to those present that Christ loved us not only with His words, but with His deeds and his life. The Pope also reflected on the words of St. Ignatius who said that the love of Jesus manifests itself more in deeds than in words and that it is especially more giving than receiving.
These two criteria are like the pillars of true love, Pope Francis said. [The Good Shepherd] knows his sheep by name because His is not an abstract or general love: it is love towards everyone.
“A God who draws near out of love, the Holy Father continued, walks with His people, and this walk comes to an unimaginable point. We could never have imagined that the same Lord would become one of us and walk with us, be present with us, present in His Church, present in the Eucharist, present in His Word, present in the poor, He is present, walking with us. And this is closeness: the shepherd close to his flock, close to his sheep, whom he knows, one by one.”
Pope Francis also drew examples of Gods love from the Book of the prophet Ezekiel, which emphasizes caring for the sheep that are lost, wounded and sick. The Holy Father spoke of the tenderness of God to all.
The Lord knows that beautiful science of caresses, the tenderness of God. He does not love us with words. He comes close – closeness – and gives us His love with tenderness. Closeness and tenderness! The Lord loves us in these two ways, He draws near and gives all His love even in the smallest things: with tenderness. And this is a powerful love, because closeness and tenderness reveal the strength of Gods love.
Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on those present to not only love others the way God love us, but more importantly, to let ourselves be loved by God.
“This may sound like heresy, but it is the greatest truth! It is more difficult to let God love us, than to love Him! the Pope exclaimed.
The best way to love Him in return is to open our hearts and let Him love us. Let Him draw close to us and feel Him close to us. This is really very difficult: letting ourselves be loved by Him. And that is perhaps what we need to ask today in the Mass: ‘Lord, I want to love You, but teach me the difficult science, the difficult habit of letting myself be loved by You, to feel You close and feel Your tenderness! May the Lord give us this grace.”